Hunting with hounds 'mimics nature'. .
By Charles Clover, Environment Editor,
Telegraph (U.K.) 1/17/2008
Hunting with hounds is more "natural" than shooting or snaring as it mimics the way wolves work in the wild, according to a study by vets.
It is the healthiest form of predator control for populations of prey species, such as foxes and deer, because hounds, like wolves, use scent to select the weakest and easiest to catch, the study says.
Snaring, shooting and trapping, on the other hand, interfere with evolution and make prey species, such as the fox, more vulnerable to the spread of disease, according to the study which is based on scientific literature mostly published since the Burns Inquiry into hunting in June 2000.
The study by the Middle Way Group of MPs and peers and the Veterinary Association for Wildlife Management was intended to provide new arguments for a repeal of the Hunting Act on the grounds of animal welfare and wildlife management.
"The Natural Chase," a report by Katie Colvile, a vet, which is based on peer reviewed scientific literature, argues that rather than being cruel, hunting mimics natural processes that animals have evolved to cope with, whereas "artificial" forms of control undermine wildlife populations.
James Barrington, a consultant to the Middle Way Group, said: "The perception is that hunting is something that is a barbaric activity, that is cruel to the individual animal.
"This study shows that hunting, on the contrary, is selective, something that the quarry can cope with and that humans are almost insignificant in it.
"Hunting is nature's way of taking out the old, the sick and those with high parasite burdens - which mankind's forms of control do not. In framing the Hunting Act, the Government has produced a law that is in many ways unnatural."
The Middle Way Group, which is in favour of hunting under a statutory code to protect the welfare of the hunted animal, believes that a future Tory government would need positive arguments for the abolition of the Hunting Act if it came to power and the report was commissioned to fill that gap.